Publication Date


Document Type

Survey Article


This Article surveys significant constitutional criminal procedure decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued during 1997 and 1998. The "constitutional" branch of criminal procedure focuses on the interpretation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In selecting "significant" decisions, we emphasized questions of first impression, other noteworthy cases, and issues likely to interest attorneys practicing in the courts of the Eleventh Circuit. We have endeavored to summarize the selected decisions and provide commentary that, hopefully, will illuminate the issues and assist the reader in understanding the importance and implications of the cases.

Although it is difficult to characterize two years of decisions, one useful methodology stems from a classic article authored by Professor Herbert L. Packer. Professor Packer suggested that the criminal justice system may be viewed from the perspective of two models: the Crime Control Model and the Due Process Model. The Crime Control Model emphasizes the efficient apprehension and punishment of criminals and the protection of citizens from crime. The image of the Crime Control Model is that of an assembly line on which crimes are systematically investigated and prosecuted. The Due Process Model focuses on the process used to determine guilt or innocence. It is more concerned with the integrity of the process and the sanctity of constitutional safeguards. The image of the Due Process Model is an obstacle course that presents impediments to wrongful convictions and law enforcement practices that infringe on the rights of citizens.

Obviously, the American system of criminal justice does not embody either of these two models exclusively, nor could it. Rather, the system reflects the ongoing tension between the two models. The American system is a compromise between the models that is constantly being struck and restruck in individual decisions, including those by the courts. Viewed from the perspective of the two models, the decisions of the Eleventh Circuit tend to favor the Crime Control Model. That generalization has more force if one considers the totality of the decisions of the court, including the entire docket of the court and not just cases involving a published opinion. But as this survey illustrates, the court often vindicates the values of the Due Process Model, and in other cases the voices of dissent advocate those values. Of course, opinions advancing the Due Process Model are over-represented here precisely because the result (or the dissent) favoring Due Process values over Crime Control values makes the cases noteworthy. That said, the general leaning of the Eleventh Circuit towards the Crime Control Model should not obscure the significant strain of Due Process values running through the body of the court's decisions.